The Supreme Court on Thursday, January 14, held its first hearing of the presidential election.
The petition filed by John Dramani Mahama who is praying the court to order a rerun of December 7, 2020, election between himself and Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who was declared the winner and sworn into office on January 7.
At the hearing, a seven-member panel of justices presided over the case.
They are Justice Kwasi Anin Yeboah, His Lordship the Chief Justice himself, who presided over the panel; Justice Gertrude Torkornoo; Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, Justice Yaw Appau, Justice Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Justice Mariama Owusu and Justice Nene Abayateye Ofoe Amegatcher.
The court granted the petitioner’s motion praying leave of the court to amend the election petition on grounds of typographical errors which mixed up the first and second respondents in several paragraphs.
The amended petition which was to be filed by 4pm the same day was to affirm that the first respondent is the Electoral Commission and the second respondent is Nana Akufo-Addo, the President.
The panel withdrew into chambers and came back with the ruling that since that was the only error the petitioner wanted to correct and that it was not going to alter the substance of the case, the motion was hereby granted.
The court ordered the respondents to provide any amended answers if any by 4pm on Friday.
Here are some noticeable differences between the 2012 presidential election petition panel and the 2020 presidential election petition panel.
First, the Chief Justice is part of the 2020 panel while in the 2012 panel, the then Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Woode was not part of the panel.
She asked Justice William Atuguba, who was at the time the most senior Supreme Court Justice, to sit on the panel.
In the case of Justice Anin Yeboah, he is the most senior whilst Justice Theodora Woode was not.
Also, this 2020 panel has seven Justices of the Supreme Court, two of which are female whilst in the 2012 case, there were nine Justices, three of which were female.
Many of the Justices involved in the 2012 presidential election petition are on retirement except Justice Jones Dotse and Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie who have not retired but are not part of the 2020 panel.
John Dramani Mahama in his petition avers that neither him nor Nana Akufo-Addo, being the two leading candidates obtained more than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast per the results declared by Jean Mensa, the EC Chairperson on 9 December.
Mahama argues further that if that 9 December declaration which was based on wrong results and a wrong calculation of the then outstanding Techiman South results were considered, then there was no winner, thereby necessitating a rerun.
In summary, Mahama, through his lawyers, is praying the Supreme Court to annul the declaration of 9 December as unconstitutional and further that all subsequent amendments by the EC, to the extent that those amendments were announced without a prior re-collation in the presence of the agents of the candidates as required by Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) 127, but were thrust on the people of Ghana via unsigned press statements are null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
Akufo-Addo had indicated that the evidence of vote padding produced by the Petition amounts to just 6622 votes, which are insignificant since he was validly elected based on Article 64(1) by a margin of some 500 thousand votes.
He stated that more than 38 thousand polling station results witnessed by the general public and international observers attest to his win.
He, however, entered into quicksand in paragraph 35 of his Answer when he stated that the results were “corroborated by all media houses of note in the country as well as many local and international observers”.
From the foregoing summaries of the case, it becomes obvious that the arguments are about arithmetic supported by logic, whilst in 2012 the arguments were about constitutional and legal breaches. Thus many pundits have observed that they expect the case to be heard within the 42 days stipulated time.
Present at the hearing included on Thursday were staff of the 1st Respondent Including Jean Mensa, the Chairperson of the 1st Respondent, that is, the Electoral Commission; Nana Akufo-Addo, the 2nd Respondent was represented by Peter Mac Manu, the Campaign Manager of the NPP; and John Dramani Mahama, the petitioner.
Tsatsu Tsikata and Tony Lithur are the attorneys for the petitioner.
Justin Amenuvor and A. Asamoah represented the 1st Respondent as counsels.
For the 2nd Respondent, Akoto Ampaw with Frank Davies, Kwaku Asirifi, and Yaw Oppong were all seated at the bar.
By the rules, hearing for the petition is expected to end on the 32nd day, that is January 30, since the petition was filed on December 30.
Judgement is expected to be delivered by 10 February according to the rules governing the case.
The next hearing of the case will be on Tuesday, January 19.